Much like every Afghan woman, 26-year-old Yurish Jawad is no drifter to artery harassment, experiencing catcalling, mockery, and corruption during alike a abbreviate airing on the streets of axial Kabul. Except that Jawad isn’t an Afghan woman. He’s a hairstylist in the basic burghal of Afghanistan, and he wears his own appearance with élan and pride, abundant to the disapproval of the bourgeois Afghan men who authority baby a austere estimation of ethics in Islam.
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“They accept that fashionable looks and hairstyles are adjoin the religion, and they criticise me for it,” Jawad tells Racked while alive at his Kabul salon. His luscious, abounding hair, albino blond, avalanche beautifully over the ancillary of his face. He boasts a abounding beard, advised to challenge New York hipsters. His client, a adolescent man in his 20s who did not ambition to be identified, nods in agreement. He has agnate bristles and bristles styles, akin by an chaotic mustache. “We can go for a airing about the block and you can see the aggravation for yourself,” Jawad says. We booty his chat for it rather than cull him abroad from the contemporary salon’s clients, including a benedict apprehension a conjugal makeover.
Hair salons like Jawad’s that accommodate administration casework are accepting immense acceptance in Afghanistan, with its adolescent citizenry acquisitive to agreement with new and contemporary styles from about the world. Disapproval and criticism from the bourgeois army accept been little bridle to the growing citizenry of appearance enthusiasts. However, this alacrity for bristles appearance in accurate has a history that is abiding acutely in the country’s afflicted past.
Not too connected ago, the Taliban administration that controlled Afghanistan imposed sharia-compliant haircuts and connected beards on Afghan men. “Those in abuse were punished and affected to get a crew that the administration accustomed of,” says Jawad who was a adolescent during the backbreaking years. “That’s how they controlled the men.” As a result, befitting beautiful haircuts beneath one’s turbans became a anatomy of affront — a bashful anarchy amid men.
The blur Titanic was actual accepted those days, and abounding adolescent men and women watched smuggled, pirated copies on their actionable televisions. “And again they capital the aforementioned hairstyle as Leonardo DiCaprio has in the movie,” recalls an earlier admirer at Jawad’s salon. “The Taliban wouldn’t acquiesce it, and started detaining men with agnate hairstyles and giving them affected haircuts.” A address by the LA Times in 2001 corroborates his account, adage that at one point, the Taliban’s Ministry of Virtue and Vice arrested 22 men over hairstyles that they “deemed abhorrent to Islam because the connected bangs baffle with the adeptness to bow and say prayers”.
“The Taliban was comprised of fighters and individuals who came to Afghanistan from added [fundamentalist and conservative] countries,” acumen Abdul Wasid, a 24-year-old media able from Kabul, who gets his bristles done every brace of weeks at Grey Bristles Salon in West Kabul. “They had abstruse that a assertive appearance was all-important to be a acceptable person,” he explains in amid break in his session, which involves a abysmal bristles wash, cut, bristles trim, and styling. “They did not apperceive that it’s not alone about styles. Haircuts and approved shaves are bigger for hygiene.”
Such was the industry, if one can alarm it that, beneath the Taliban. Jawad didn’t alike acquisition out until years later, afterwards the US occupation, that actuality a hairstylist could be a applicable career choice. “There were no adorned bristles salons, because no one dared blow a man’s bristles and anybody got the aforementioned hairstyle. So why would anyone pay to go to a fancier, added big-ticket salon for the aforementioned crew that they could get for cheaper from a roadside beautician who trims bristles application one old brace of shears?” he says with a laugh.
Afghan bristles appearance has appear a connected way aback then. “Italian and Turkish hairstyles are actual accepted these canicule as abatement cuts for men,” says 25-year-old Mahdi, a beautician at the contemporary Grey Bristles Salon in West Kabul, which he started with two of his friends. “About two years ago it was the Korean haircuts from characters in a dubbed TV ball that were in demand.” Mahdi has been a hairstylist for eight years, all his developed life, and abundant like his colleagues, he abstruse the art by alive with a bounded barber. “A lot of the newer styles, we’ve recreated from the internet,” he says.
In fact, it isn’t aberrant for Afghan men to accompany a account of a crew they saw on Facebook or on a celebrity and ask their beautician to carbon it. “These canicule it’s additionally accepted for audience to accompany us photos of bristles art they’ve apparent online for us to assignment with,” says Sadiq, 23, co-owner and hairstylist at Grey Salon.
As the appeal for fashionable hairstyles increases, so does the cardinal of apish salons about Kabul that accomplish profitably. An boilerplate affair for a crew costs about 1,000 Afghan afghanis (approximately $15), while added services, including washing, styling, arch massage, and facial beating could set you aback by 3,500 Afghan afghanis (approximately $50). Meanwhile, grooms-to-be sometimes absorb amid $100 to $150 for a conjugal amalgamation that involves accelerated treatments and styling, with acceptable beam assignment to accommodated the standards of the Afghan bells scene.
Faced with beneath but connected opposition, the adolescent men of Kabul abide to abrasion their styles of apostasy on their sleeves, sometimes literally. Wasid has some admonition for the critics of newer, fashionable styles: “This may not be our culture. But we aren’t declared to artlessly authority on to our culture, but should advance our ability while acquirements from added cultures.”
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